There is strong evidence that the fashion industry is turning a corner. The newest State of Fashion 2018 Report co-authored by BOF and McKinsey foresees a new sense of optimism in an industry plagued by uncertainty.
It’s not everyday that you have an ethical fashion and style epiphany whilst standing on top of a filthy Hong Kong landfill watching a queue of rubbish trucks dump their trash out. But this happened to me. This unlikely, and somewhat smelly, moment gave me such a seismic wake up call about my relationship with my clothes and how much rubbish I created that my entire appreciation of fashion was whiplashed into radical change. In that moment, with countless birds flying afoot and swooping down to eat scraps, I became an ethical fashion consumer and I committed to only wearing secondhand, vintage, upcycled or recycled clothes for the rest of my days. I have never looked back, or looked or felt better, since.
Few fibres tick as many eco-boxes as Lyocell. Made from wood cellulose, production is clean and resource-efficient; and the product Lyocell itself, recyclable and biodegradable. Now, in a leap towards circular practices in textiles, the world’s leading producer Lenzing, introduces Refibra™, fibres made from cotton scraps. With almost 15% of fabric typically ending up on cutting room floors, closing the loop is most certainly music to our ears.
Read about more industry innovations in our magazine.
When it comes to writing about fashion, I’m probably not your typical columnist. I’m an ex-dentist (I’ve drilled and filled my way through London’s well-heeled Harley Street jet setters before moving to Hong Kong 11 years ago) and an ex-journalist (I’ve written about anything from the state of my sex life at eight months of pregnancy to how to spend the entire weekend naked in Tokyo). When not authoring carnally focussed articles, I’ve also written extensively about environmental matters; from China’s rampant environmental crisis to the appalling eco-footprint that the fashion and textile industry is tramping across the planet. Naturally, it was this line of journalism that led me 10 years ago to start Redress, a Hong Kong-based NGO with a mission to reduce waste in the fashion industry. I’ve never looked back.
I’ve just recovered from my December’s whistle-stop travel schedule. This saw me brave the snow as New York’s twinkling Christmas lights winked at Christmas shoppers; cut through Hong Kong’s haze whilst being lured by exuberant mall displays that look more Hollywood than Hong Kong: to cozying up by warm pub fires in Britain oldest villages, where short days and long nights put you in the festive spirit. And I assure you; the party season is here. From the city to the country, whether you’re in the mood for it or not, the world is calling out for celebrations, from office parties, Christmas, New Year’s eve, family occasions to Chinese New Year.
After seven highly successful years, we are rebranding the EcoChic Design Award to the Redress Design Award. This exciting move coincides with the cycle becoming truly global in 2018 and will further align the competition with Redress and our overarching vision to reduce waste and fuel a new circular system for fashion.
We're leading the charge in helping the Hong Kong public rethink their wardrobe waste. In partnership with laundry experts, Miele, 4.5 tonnes of clothing were collected this week after a short citywide campaign proving that consumers have no desire to throw away their unwanted clothing – of which almost 100% can be recycled. Engaging consumers on the value of keeping clothing in action for longer through better care, the clothing drive is part of our mission to expand our work to save more clothing from landfills.
25,000+ people reached through our educational materials, 1,700 witnessed our Grand Final live, 139 sponsors and supporting partners – these are just a few highlights from our last EcoChic Design Award cycle – and we want you to be a part of the action! We’re looking for passionate individuals to join our growing Hong Kong team! Find out about our available roles here and don't forget to share this link with your friends! In the meantime the team are gearing up for the next cycle launch in January 2018 when we will be accepting applications globally for the first time ever - watch this space!
Materials, models and mindsets were central themes for Mistra Future Fashion’s Circular Transitions conference which took place in London this time last year, bringing together academia and industry for a deep dive into circular approaches to textile design, and leaving us energised about the future of fashion! The proceedings from this groundbreaking conference have just been published and includes 30+ papers from some of the most outstanding speakers. Redress team favourites include Jade Whitson-Smith's paper on the role of the fashion designer in influencing post-purchase garment behaviour (p122), and Karen Dennis et al on exploring models of pulling post consumer waste back in the circular fashion system (p184).
We are now buying more clothes than ever before and have moved away from carefully looking after our clothes. Skills like cleaning, sewing and storing have fallen out of fashion and many of us are actively damaging our clothes through our everyday cleaning routines - prematurely ageing them by boiling, bleaching and tumbling them within an inch of their lives! We don’t know how to care for, or dispose of our clothes responsibly…
No one knows the true scale of ‘deadstock’ clothing waste — in other words, clothes that are unable to be sold at full or discounted price and must be gotten rid of somehow.
We know that around 100 billion garments are manufactured annually. Let’s say the sell-through rate (both full and discounted) is a generous 90%, then potentially 10 million items of clothing become ‘deadstock’ every year. That’s a lot of clothes to miraculously make ‘disappear.’ So what do brands and retailers claim to do with the products they can’t get customers to buy?
EcoChic Design Award 2017 ambassador Kate Tsui represented Redress at the GGEF Women Eco Game Changer Awards Night 2017 on 18th October - a meaningful event which acknowledged and gave recognition to women leading and inspiring change, making an impact in the community and environment through innovation in Asia.
In dialogue with Dr. Frederik Balfour, Editor-at-Large at Bloomberg, Kate spoke about her personal journey towards sustainability through her role as ambassador for the EcoChic Design Award, and the positive role women can play in pushing sustainability forward in the fashion industry. She also inspired the room of guests with her stylish up-cycled outfit reworked by our EcoChic Design Award finalists from items found in Hong Kong clothing bins during the recent Redress x Miele Consumer Care challenge! Kate styled the versatile outfit with a reconstructed skirt she had up-cycled from a black evening gown that had been in her wardrobe for a few years.
Congratulations to the winners of the awards - Sandra Marichal, Elaine Ng, Juliana Lam & He Yisha. It was especially wonderful to see those pushing for positive change in the fashion industry recognised!
It’s not too late to celebrate Redress' 10th anniversary with us. Join in on our campaign and take the ‘10 steps to a more conscious closet’, or make a one-off donation of $10/£10/€10 to help drive our work forward. You can even show Redress some extra love when shopping with our supporting partners, who have been fundraising on our behalf this month.
BYT has arrived! Championing Redress' 10 year legacy, BYT, the luxe up-cycled social impact fashion brand - with an ambition to prove that fashion can be a force for good - enjoyed its runway debut this month in Hong Kong before hitting Lane Crawford's prestigious retail store and global online platform.
In the lead up to the Grand Final show, our EcoChic Design Award finalists were united in Hong Kong to explore the multiple possibilities for tackling real-life textile waste scenarios. Competing in challenges focused on circular economy models, our designers crafted prototypes for new lifestyle products from Cathay Pacific’s retired uniforms at the Langham, Hong Kong; rescued discarded clothes from Hong Kong’s clothing bins through simple care techniques with Miele; and got a taste of the production line and the critical role that designers play even at the manufacturing stage with TAL Group. These challenges showed these young designers first-hand how improved interactions between designers, manufacturers and consumers can significantly alter the overall environmental impact of every single piece of clothing. Congratulations to all our winners!
Click here to revisit our favourite moments from the week.
The quest to create positive change in fashion just moved one stylish step forward. Enter BYT, the pioneering new designer up-cycled brand born from Redress’ 10-year history.
Fierce aesthetic and innovative techniques applied to a range of unusual and sometimes surprising materials combined to impress the distinguished judges, and dazzle 600 of the region’s most influential industry players and VIP onlookers last night at the EcoChic Design Award Grand final. British designer Kate Morris won first prize demonstrating the power of the circular economy, where nothing goes to waste.
Kate will now join a team of fashion game-changers to create a collection for BYT, a new Hong Kong affordable luxury brand born from Redress. BYT’s inaugural up-cycled collection, which was designed by previous EcoChic Design Award competition winners, will retail in Lane Crawford and Barneys in New York, demonstrating Asia as a leading fashion powerhouse, and the changing ethical tastes of luxury consumers worldwide.
“I believe the fashion industry has reached a critical point and I want to part of the change – designing sustainable items of beauty for the masses is my dream and I am excited about winning this competition as it will me enable to contribute to a better future” said Kate.
Kate will also see her winning collection, a bright and playful knitwear collection which mixed handcraft with technology, and focused on the three design techniques of the collection – zero-waste, up-cycling and reconstruction – in an installation at Lane Crawford, Asia’s leading iconic luxury department store.
Competition judge, Joanna Gunn, Chief Brand Officer, Lane Crawford, said “As part of Lane Crawford’s commitment to supporting young emerging talent, we are pleased to support the EcoChic Design Award and its cause of promoting sustainability in fashion with the next generation of designers.”